(OCTOBER 2, 2020) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on a proposal to transition to Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) as the official eartag for use in interstate movement of cattle that are required to be identified by the traceability regulations. Comments are due by 11:59pm EDT on Monday, October 5.
At its 2019 Annual Meeting, USCA members approved policy related to Animal Health and ID Priorities. Within that policy included the following statement:
“There is concern across the countryside that a move toward electronic identification will open the door for private tag and data companies, and other allied industries, to profit from the effort, leaving the producers’ information in the hands of a third-party provider…the main reason for official identification is for disease traceability, and it is with the above concerns in mind that USCA suggests that any official USDA identification remain focused on disease traceability.”
USCA strongly believes that any transition to a national animal identification program be built to serve the goal of enhanced animal disease traceability. We also offer the following points for consideration when drafting your comments:
- There should be no private control of data, or access to the data, without the prior approval of the owner at the time of application.
- 840 series EID tags should be only used as official EID on U.S. born and raised cattle (900 series tags are not unique in their official identification).
- All official USDA tag information should be held in state animal health data bases and shared with federal animal health officials as needed.
- The use of USDA metal NEUS tags and electronic tags should continue. The industry requires more time to adapt and transfer to an all-electronic system; time will determine whether multiple systems can be used.
- Official ID should only be required on breeding cattle and only as they move into interstate commerce, or as determined by each state’s importation requirements
- As the industry looks to adopt EIDs, financial assistance from USDA will be required to supply reader equipment, both low frequency (LF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF).
- As any future transition is made to EIDs, the process will eventually need to move to UHF in order to improve read range and the ability to read animals and groups at speed of commerce.
- Producers should never be responsible for more than the cost of the tags.
- Premises identification numbers (PINs) should not be required to acquire and apply EID tags. The same information can be gathered on health certificates and test charts and other animal health documents.